Category Archives: time management

5 Secrets for Making Time Work for You

What are you doing with your time? If you’re like many people, your days rush by you leaving you exhausted or exhilarated and frustrated or ecstatic. Maybe some days, you feel all four of those emotions.

What is the key to keeping the pendulum hovering over the exhilarated and ecstatic positions?  Focus.

Knowing what to focus on though, can present a real challenge for some. Stephen B. Covey provided invaluable guidance in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But that was published in 1989 before many people had email.  Mark Zuckerberg was just 5. The internet was the bastion of academic universities and world wide web was still in its infancy.

So how do we profit from time today?

1. Set long- and short-term goals
When you know where you’re headed, the pathway becomes more clear. When the path is clear, the correct daily actions along the path are more easy to discern. Without direction, any action keeps you busy but won’t necessarily get you anywhere you truly want to be.

2. Do something everyday that scares you
Miracles happen outside our comfort zone. Our routines and habits keeps us ‘safe’, in the mind’s eye at least. Unfamiliar activities are seen as dangerous and a threat to our survival. Yet, no true progress is made if you keep doing the same thing over and over again. My husband makes the distinction between people who have 20 years of experience vs 1 year of experience repeated 20 times. One person is more likely an expert; the other, not so much.

3. Track your time
It’s a tedious practice but can yield frightening results that will motivate you to make changes. Pick, in advance, 2 – 3 ‘typical’ days in your upcoming week. Every 15 minutes, make a brief note about what you did with the previous 15 minute time frame. Review your activities after 2 – 3 days and notice which ‘rabbit holes’ sucked up your valuable time. Make a vow to yourself to avert time wasters and energy drainers. Delegate. Negotiate. Procrastinate (on those things that aren’t worthy of your time and talents).

4. Clump like tasks together
If you have a lot of calls to make, do them all at once. Shifting from a phone call to an email to an office visit down the hall to working on a report uses up valuable energy. Allocate time to completing similar tasks during one period. Your mind won’t have to make so many transitions. You’re less likely to get distracted during one of those transitions and will feel more productive once you’re accomplished a list of things rather than the onesy-twosy items you may fall victim to.

5. Set a courageous, unpredictable revenue or salary goal
With this big number in mind, evaluate every task against the value of your time. Ask yourself, “Would a person who makes $’X’ be spending their time on this activity?” Even if you have a job with ‘constrained resources’ available, this is still a valid practice. It will cause you to prioritize your activities in terms of their real value and help you look for other, easier ways to accomplish some of your goals.

Focus is the key. Focus your energy, your time and your talents to accomplishing specific tasks. Put mental blinders on and stay with a task until it (or some predetermined portion of it) is done.

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How to Master Your Psychology to Accomplish Your Goals

The primary reasons people don’t reach their potential has little to do with their circumstances and much to do with their personal psychology, the voices in their head that tell them what’s possible for them and what isn’t.

Seemingly well-equipped, well-put-together people sometimes struggle to manifest success. And you probably know or have heard of people who start with ‘nothing’ in life who rise to the highest levels of accomplishment.

What’s the difference between them? Their psychology.

Psychology manifests itself as thought patterns and habits repeated often enough to become automatic. They’re often formed by default in childhood and beyond as we observe and mimic authority figures.

Many of our thought patterns are deigned to safeguard our habits to help us be more efficient and save us time and energy. (Think about the way you habitually shower, brush your teeth and start and operate your car.) If we had to think about each of the individual actions involved at every juncture, we’d exhaust ourselves.

The problem arises when the thought patterns and habits outlive their usefulness or when they are created based on mis-information, solving a problem that doesn’t exist. If you’ve ever made a bad, inaccurate assumption and then acted on it (perhaps for years), that’s a good example of this dynamic at work.

So what’s a body (or mind) to do?

1. Identify the beliefs you have that make you fearful, hesitant and reluctant to take action.
This might take some work since we’re not aware of some of our beliefs and may not have articulated them before. Start listening to the conversations you have about yourself, to yourself as well as the conversations you have about the world.

When you start hearing refrains, things you say over and over, that’s a belief.

2. Challenge what you think
Beliefs are like cow paths. The more you go down them, the more they seem like the only way to go. Don’t assume everything you think is the truth. Practice thinking new thoughts.

3. Recognize that your mind is designed to protect ‘the way it is’
Your thoughts will tend to dissuade you from trying new things. Know that this is a signal that you’re on the right track. Your brain wants to keep things simple and new thoughts and behaviors appear as a threat.

4. Surround yourself with optimistic, supportive people
We rise to the level of the company we keep. If you’re surrounded with pessimistic people who are victimized by the world they inhabit (and have unknowingly created), it will be hard to do the things you need to do to make progress.

When you hang out with successful people, you’re encouraged to be your best (rather than blame the world for your problems). You’ll have access to more and better resources. You’ll be inspired instead of depressed. You will experience a greater sense of possibility and be more likely to try new things. You’ll set goals and actually believe you can accomplish them.

5. Run when you can and tread water when ‘life’ kicks you in the butt.
Optimistic attitude or not, sometimes bad, annoying and troublesome things happen. During those times, you’ll need to apply your full attention to solving the issues at hand.  When you’re not encumbered by those emergencies though, work diligently toward your goal. Invest your time on the most productive activities you can muster, especially those that frighten you. Do at least one thing every day that will get you closer to your goal that you’re afraid of doing.

Miracles happen just outside your comfort zone. So make it a habit to consistently step outside yours.

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Upgrade Your Fears And Free Your Soul

Fear is part of the human condition. We have all experienced it at one point or another. It’s what we choose to do in the face of fear that defines our character…and our results.

Fear’s original design is to protect us from harm. Unfortunately, sometimes we place too much value on the “Danger! Danger!” alerts it sends us and fear things that should be more directly confronted.

A recent, simple experience got me thinking about the impact fear has on our lives. I attended a surprise birthday party with an Hawaiian theme.

After the surprise, entertainment, food and cake, the coordinators announced there would be contests and prizes for the lowest limbo and longest hula hoop whirl.

I surveyed the jagged rock-covered ground and considered the flimsy sandals I was wearing and immediately ruled out the limbo contest.  I thought though, I could probably handle the hula hoop contest.  However, immediately my mind went to “How will I look?”, “Has it been too long?”, “What will they think?”, “Will I embarrass myself?”

Just as quickly though, I DECIDED it didn’t matter how I looked  or what they might think and sprang out of my seat to claim my hula hoop.

Out of a crowd of over 50, about 10 of us decided to participate in the contests. No, I didn’t win (shucks). I did come in second though and felt pleased with myself that I didn’t let that little voice in my head keep me on the sidelines cause even though the hula hoop fell down too quickly in the final round, it was exhilarating pressing my muscles to remember  ‘the moves’ from my childhood.

What do your fears keep you from doing?

It’s a trivial example, but it made me think about the things my fears DID keep me on the sidelines for. So that night I DECIDED to push the edge of my concerns and worries when I got back to the office on Monday.

So, at the start of the week, I pulled out my call list and when I felt a twinge of “Oh no. Today’s not a good day to call that person”, I knew that was the person to call. Now I can’t say any of those calls turned into immediate money, but amazingly, I DID get two enticing offers ‘out of the blue’ that let me know the universe was rewarding my efforts.

Most of us waste our energy worrying about things that are undeserving of our attention.  Studs Terkel once wrote, “Most people are in jobs that are too small for their souls.” I would spin that slightly to “Most people live inside fears that are too small for their spirit.”

We are afraid of stuff that’s too small, insignificant, unbecoming of the magnificent person we truly are.

So, instead of wasting your time on the trivial minutia or day-to-day drama, create something meaningful that scares you and conquer that.

It’s silly to be afraid to pick up the phone to make an important call. But left to our own devices, we all do it from time to time.

Life, and our success in it, is about continually expanding our capabilities, our sense of self, our positive impact on the world, the expression of our deepest longing, our gift and purpose for being on this planet at this time.

And to do this, we most grow larger than that which constrains us.

What would you do or attempt to do if you were living life courageously? Who would you call? What would you say? What project would you take on? How big would you play? What would you do with your life? How bold would you be?

Here are today’s simple fear-busting tips:
1) Catch yourself when you start to procrastinate or make excuses. Then take action on something you fear.
2) Go public by telling others what you’re up to so it’s harder to back out.
3) Commit to goals that stretch you even if you have no idea how you’ll put them off.
4) Ask for help along the way.
5) Praise yourself for kicking your fear to the curb even if you don’t get the immediate result you desired. If you continuously take courageous action, your life will change.

Be aware of your fears, but not beholden to them. Use them as stepping stones to your future and a brave new world.

Loretta Love Huff

How to Know If Your Business Loves YOU

There are several prerequisites for having a business that loves you as much as you love being a business owner.

It’s tempting to delude yourself into accepting less than you deserve because you’re so enamored with the concept of being a business owner.

The reality of it can be a much different story.

When we live in a state of delusion, we’ll accept less than we deserve. We put up with and tolerate behavior that is not conducive to our well-being.

So how do you know if your business is being true to you? How do you know if it’s putting you above all else? How do you know if it would take a bullet for you?

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

Establish criteria and expectations that will allow you to lead a lifestyle that inspires you.

1. Schedule vacations

Without proper planning, you could end up working throughout the entire year. When you do your business planning (you DO do that don’t you?), decide how much time you want to take off and then block it out on your calendar. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go (although that helps), you just need to commit to when.

2. Work in your sweet spot

Most people go into business because of a passion or area of expertise thinking that’s how they’ll spend most of there time. Then they realize there is so much more that’s required in running a business. When you’re new you may not be able to afford all of the help you need, but before you think you CAN afford it, start outsourcing tasks you hate or aren’t good at. Doing so will actually free you up to be more creative and thus afford you the time to work on things that will generate more sales.

3. Value your time an expertise

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Focus on sharing your gifts with others for recompense in addition to the pure joy of it. Don’t undervalue your knowledge and passion. People need your unique perspective and want help from someone who knows more than they do.

4. Work with people you adore

This is definitely one of the big perks of being in business. You get to choose your ideal clients. This is particularly true if you’re in a service business. You target the kind of folk you want to work with. You don’t have to make an ‘offer’ to everyone if you’re not interested. Or, you could add a premium to the price so it feels more palatable to you. I don’t strongly recommend that option. It’s one thing to charge more for work you enjoy less. It seems almost mean to do it for such personal reasons as not liking someone. Just say ‘no’ and move on.

5. It pays you well

I remember talking with a graphic designer 20 years ago when I first started my jewelry design business. I sold hand-crafted earrings and necklaces at Art & Wine festivals in northern California. As we were chatting about my new business (I was very excited), I revealed how much I paid in entrance (booth) fees for the more popular shows. Her reaction was “Oh. I guess you’re happy to just break even.”

I looked at her in dismay. “No”, I said. “I almost always make a substantial profit. And on those occasions when I don’t, I know it’s an aberration and I don’t do that particular show again (unless it was just rained out which was a rare occurrence).

Pristine Beach East Zanzibar
Image via Wikipedia

That jewelry business paid for a 3 1/2 week trip to Tanzania for a safari, a week in Zanzibar and a week in the ‘bush’ with the Masai. It was a great way to start off in the business world. And even today, my pricing reflects the value I provide to my clients not just the minimum to ‘break even’ and cover the bills.

So, if your business loves you, you’ll enjoy your work and your clients. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy live.

You’ll be valued by your clients and you’ll be paid what you’re worth.

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7 Steps for Setting Goals and Prioritizing Actions

In order to make substantive progress in life, you must have a clear picture, sense or description of where you’re going. Without that, your time will be consumed by life’s mini and major emergencies.

Even when you have that plan, things won’t always go that way. Never-the-less, make time to be strategic about your life, career or business.

Here are 7 critical concepts that will help you deal with almost anything.

1. Plan at least once a year
Block out time on your calendar and ask yourself where you want to be five years from now. Identify milestones and required accomplishments along the way. Anticipate potential obstacles you might encounter and figure out NOW how you’ll avoid or deal with them if they arise.

2. Bring  your emotions into play
Emotions create motivation. You’ll need some fuel to help you through the challenges and tedious times too. As you ponder your bright future, write down WHY it’s important for you to get there and how you’ll feel once you do.

3. Think big but plan small
This is like Think globally, but act locally.  Progress is made one step at a time. If your goal is big (and it should be) it might overwhelm you into thinking it’s not possible for you. When you break it down into small chunks, your brain will say “I can do that!”. And it will

4. Put activities on your calendar
If your plan stays in your notebook or pad of paper, it won’t be executable. Do somehthing every day (or at least every week) toward your goals

5. Schedule time for breakdowns during the day
Stuff happens. That won’t be avoidable. So anticipate the phenomenon and block out one-hour block for random acts of ‘stuff’. That way, when they happen, you’ll already have accounted for them and they’ll have less of an impact on your plans for the day.

6. Step into the abyss when it occurs
When something big breaks down (a body requiring an unexpected surgery, for example), you gotta deal with it. The emergency requires your full attention. Do what needs to be done.  If you resist, procrastinate or try to avoid it, it will just get worse.

Ask for help. Do things to take care of yourself. Pray and meditate or just think about the bigger picture. That will help provide perspective. Some emergencies are short lived. Other unforeseen circumstances last for a long time and require a lot of patience. Resist the urge to become a helpless victim. Stay true to your values. Stay true to yourself.

7. Keep your eye on the future
The emergency will pass so while you’re dealing with it, think about how lovely life might be once it’s behind you. Emergencies have a way of helping you prioritize what’s REALLY important. So ‘use’ the time to assess yourself and your goals.

Do these things and you’ll become ever stronger, more capable and effective.

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